In the wake of Mitt Romney’s Election Day defeat, frustration with the Romney campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort led to reports of an IT meltdown. Project Orca, the system the Romney campaign used to connect to an army of volunteer poll-watchers tracking voter turnout, quickly became a target for conspiracy theorists, even leading to accusations of sabotage by contract developers. How could the Romney campaign spend so much on technology consultants and yet see its vaunted app fail when it was needed the most?

The truth, according to sources familiar with the matter, is that the applications powering Orca were developed by an internal “skunkworks,” one made up of both campaign staffers and volunteers—not by a big-name consulting firm.

Into the skunkworks

According to Federal Election Commission filings that we examined, the Romney campaign spent over $40 million on technology vendors. Targeted Victory, the firm founded by Romney’s Director of Digital Zac Moffatt, was the biggest single benefactor of that spending, receiving more than $14 million as of the end of October. That money was both payment for its own social media consulting and development work, and for “pass-through” IT spending that went to other contractors such as Rockfish Interactive (the developers of Romney’s running mate announcement mobile app).

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab